Title: The Anglerfish Technique
Author: Sorceress Fantasia
Pairings: Riku/Sora, some mentions of Leon/Cloud
Word count: 4267
Warnings: Humour, romance, fluff, sap
Disclaimer: I don't own Kingdom Hearts and its characters, nor do I own the various Final Fantasies and their characters.
Summary: Riku was sick and tired of getting the wrong type of attention from Sora. And apparently, so was Kairi. With her help, Riku will understand what it means by 'girls always know better'.
Note: Dedicated to draxander. Hope you'll like it, dearie!
Christmas, supposedly the day of giving.
As much as Riku loved the idea of giving and sharing his Christmas spirit with his friends and family, would it kill to receive the one thing he had been waiting for the last… what, 5 years?
And it was such a simple thing too. It wasn't like Riku wanted a house, a car, or even world domination for Christmas. No, all he wanted, Christmas after Christmas, birthday after birthday, was just Sora. Just Sora and his smiles, his voice, his hugs and his companionship. Of course, Riku would be lying if he said he didn't want anything more than that, but it was best to keep his wish simple so someone up there would hear him and hopefully grant him his tiny, little wish. The rest, he could work it out himself, but first, he had to somehow let Sora know about how he really felt about him.
Too bad Sora was so dense about relationships apart from friendships that he never got all the hints Riku had been dropping nonstop all through the years.
Like that year, Riku had nudged Sora until they were standing underneath a sprig of mistletoe, but before Riku could lean in for a kiss and blame it on the innocent plant, the brunet ran off to answer a phone that wasn't even his. Cloud shifted uncomfortably for the rest of the night while Riku just kept glaring at him.
The next year, on Sora's birthday, Riku had given him a fresh paopu fruit, plucked mere moments ago from their tree. It was fool-proof, he thought. After all, Sora just had to understand what it meant to share a paopu fruit, and one plucked from /their/ tree, no less. Oh, Sora had understood that gesture, but not well enough, sadly. Before Riku could stop him, Sora shouted for Kairi to come join them. In the end, the three best friends had to share one puny paopu.
And then there was that one time during their excursion to a karaoke lounge when Riku had tried to dedicate a love song to Sora, 'tried' being the operative word here. It was only when Riku finished the song and returned to their table that Tidus nervously informed him that Sora had been in the washroom for the last five minutes. Another minute later, Sora bounced back to their table, plopped down heavily on the seats, commented on the long queue at the washroom, and asked if he had missed anything.
Just last year, Riku had decided that subtlety wasn't going to work. Unless something was staring at Sora in the eye, the little brunet just wasn't going to understand that Riku loved him in a more than friendly way. Mostly, he just chalked all the things Riku did for him, like that time when he had hunted all the shops downtown just to find a puzzle Sora wanted and all those times when Riku went over to his house to shove snow and mow the lawn, to plain ol' friendship. So that year, Riku opted to be blatant, obvious, and stare-in-your-face clear. Unfortunately, Sora had only applauded after his solo performance of 'All I want for Christmas is you', and commented that Riku had a really nice tone.
If anyone asked, Riku would admit that he was wholly responsible for that dent in the wall in Merlin's house, where they had their annual Christmas party.
This year, epiphany finally trampled on him like a herd of dancing elephant, and Riku realized that nothing short of a "I love you!" would make Sora understand. Then again, with his luck, there was still the possibility that the brunet would see that as a mere sign of affection between friends and happily reply, "I love you too, Riku. And I love Kairi, mum, dad, Donald, Goofy, Cloud, Leon, Yuffie, Aeris, Cid, Merlin…"
Riku was half-afraid that by the time Sora was finished with his list, that wall in Merlin's house would have already disintegrated and the house collapsed.
And so, despite how much he /wanted/ to show Sora he cared, Riku had not a clue on how go on about it. How to be blatantly obvious and yet still subtle at the same time, so nobody would get embarrassed if anything untoward were to happen? Unfortunately, with people like Kairi and Yuffie around, it was pretty difficult for untoward things to /not/ happen.
A backup plan or two was needed.
…No, how was he supposed to have a backup plan when he didn't even have a plan in the first place!?
He had been brooding all about it since setting his butt on their gummy ship and traveling over to Radiant Garden, fretting about it as he was helping the restoration committee decorate Merlin's house for the party and even when he was taking a break –like he was now- he was still thinking about it. It was like… coming up with a plan to snag Sora had consumed his life. And yet, he still had not one frigging clue on where to start.
Riku couldn't help glaring at Leon and Cloud, who had paused in their work to steal a few kisses under a sprig of well-placed mistletoe. He would bet his entire fortune that Leon had analyzed the house for a good position twice over, finally settled on the place that Cloud seemed most likely to pass through as he helped with the decorations, stuck that sprig there with nothing short of superglue and two rolls of duct tape, led his boyfriend over and then pointed upwards innocently. Leon was just sneaky like that sometimes.
And just when did /they/ happen, anyway?
One year, Cloud was obsessed with chasing down Sephiroth and defeating his darkness, and Leon was busy with the restoration committee and maintaining his Mr. Leader persona. The next year Riku came trotting along with Sora for a visit, those two were sneaking glances and lingering touches when they thought nobody was looking. And the next thing Riku knew, Cloud was already sitting in Leon's lap and feeding him breakfast in their bedroom. And Mr. Leader Leon was lounging comfortably in their shared bed and licking Cloud's fingers.
Oh, how things change.
And how such good things never happen to him.
He sulked more when he noticed Sora dashing into the next room with his hands full of ribbons, wrapping paper and some scotch tape, with Yuffie and Aeris rushing right behind him. Sora had seemingly completely forgotten all about him sitting alone by the corner for the past three hours. Woe…
Riku was about to continue sulking (he was starting to see the appeal in the emo stuff Cloud seemed to enjoy doing before dating Leon) when suddenly, an irate tap on his shoulder caused him to turn around. What he saw sent a shiver down his spine, and not in the good way too. He gulped.
Whoever said men ran the universe was obviously an egoistic and stupid man who would get the life beaten out of him afterwards by his wife. Or any female companion who happened to be in the vicinity. Or the nearest female who could hit the hardest.
Whoever said women were under-represented in the advancement of technology and science was probably the same guy who went home and fixed the washing machine and dishwasher for his wife so she could watch television as the clothes and dishes did themselves as he offered to slice up an apple for her.
And whoever said that women were gentle and demure creatures who deserved nothing less than pampering and worshipping had clearly never understood the inner workings of the female mind, which in Riku's opinion, were designed in such a way that allowed them to subtly manipulate all men so the men could fix their washing machines and dishwashers while they sipped champagne.
So, smiling almost nervously, Riku held up a hand and waved limply.
"Erm, hi Kairi?"
The redhead smiled in return, but it was a smile that scared the socks off Riku's feet and filled him with the titanic urge to run screaming for the hills. Or wherever was safe.
Because whenever she got that gleam in her eyes, Riku knew it heralded bad luck for someone. It was kind of like walking under a ladder and having a black cat cross your path at the same time, but this was much more powerful and much more immediate.
"Oh Riku, I noticed you've been along here for the past, oh, three hours without helping anyone! And all these time, you've been staring at a certain someone we both know but is just too busy to notice you're staring at him!" Her smile did not waver in the slightest. If anything, it widened.
Riku tried to inch away.
"Don't you think –and I might be wrong about this but I really don't think so because I'm never wrong about these sort of things- that instead of sitting around/loitering/ around like some sloth and emo-ing, you should be doing /something/ to get his attention?"
Riku's legs just refused to cooperate and stop shaking enough for him to make a mad dash for the door.
"And whether you want it or not, appreciate it or not, I'm going to make you /do/ something for once. Trust me; you'll thank me later, when it's over."
With that, Kairi dragged a struggling Riku into another obscure corner in another more obscure room in Merlin's obscure house. Cue for bloodcurdling screams.
"Are you… are you absolutely sure this is going to work?"
Kairi pouted at him, almost indignant that he had the audacity to even question her, and she flicked his forehead. "Have I ever misled you? This is obviously going to get Sora to understand your feelings for him!" she whispered harshly, adjusting the new headband she had just slapped onto Riku's head. Then, as though on second thoughts, she added, "Well, if it doesn't, at least you'll get to kiss him!"
"Yeah, and get everyone laughing at me like I'm an imbecile." Riku promptly shut up when he caught the glare she shot at him. Before he could voice out his other concerns, like how stupid he looked and how in the world had Kairi gotten this idea, he felt himself spun around and gleefully shoved out of the room. There was a chirpy 'good luck', a slam of the door behind him, and then Riku was left alone to fend for himself in the huge, vast world.
Or at least, that was what Riku thought. The world that was compressed into Merlin's house suddenly felt even more gigantic when he realized that Kairi had locked the door with him outside, and there was no shovel or even a spade in sight for him to dig a hole and hide in. Worse still, there was a shout from behind the door that said, "Take the headband off and I'll shave your head when you're asleep!" She might as well have told him that he was going to die either way.
Ten minutes later, Riku decided that it might be a good idea to start moving away from the door. He was half-afraid his feet had already sprouted roots –which might explain why it was so difficult to move- but thankfully, that wasn't the case. And so, Riku started the greatest adventure of his life. Namely, resisting the urge to rip the headband off his head and find Sora while avoiding everyone else. Even escaping from the corridors of darkness and defeating the organization hadn't been /this/ tough.
Twenty minutes later, he had met everyone in the house except for Sora.
Yuffie had fallen to the ground while clutching her stomach, gasping for breath and complaining about the stitch in her sides.
Aeris had, as per her good manners, tried to suppress her giggles (and failed, unfortunately) while sidestepping Riku.
Merlin had adjusted his glasses over and over and commenting how his glasses weren't working properly, because he kept seeing the weirdest headband ever on Riku's head.
King Mickey had chuckled and congratulated Riku on taking a "bold first step".
Donald had joined Yuffie, and the two pounded the ground while guffawing and trying (and failing) to get up.
Goofy had given him a confused look, then decided it was just easier to pat him on his back and send him along to wherever it was he had been heading.
Leon had blinked. He was probably wondering why he hadn't thought of doing what Riku was doing with Cloud, and one second later, wondered why he had even gotten that ridiculous notion into his head in the first place anyway.
Cloud had graciously stepped aside and pointed him in Sora's direction, all the while biting his bottom lip to stop his chuckles, though that effect was pretty much ruined by the trembles in his entire frame.
And so twenty minutes and his dignity transformed into nothing more than confetti and shreds later, Riku found Sora decorating the Christmas tree by himself in a not-so-obscure room in Merlin's house.
Said brunet was busy arranging the presents underneath the Christmas tree, and so without turning around, he replied, "Yes?" As he did so, his eyes zoomed into a problem with the arrangements, where a smaller present was getting suffocated by a much larger box. He quickly dug it out of the pile and placed it in the outer ring, just so nobody would miss it. Yuffie had spent a lot of time on perfecting the ribbon on that gift for Cloud, whom she said was like the elder brother she never had. In Sora's opinion, it was safer that he never found out whatever was in that box.
"Sora, could you… come over?"
Still unsatisfied with the presents' general arrangement, Sora agreed absently, "Sure, just give me another second. I'm almost done here…" He reached out to push another present deeper into the pile, just so everything would look more compact and save a little space. The room was small enough as it was, and Sora would much prefer having a bit more space to walk around. After all, Leon had placed quite a few sprigs of mistletoe in the house for himself and Cloud. Sora had no interest in getting under one by accident.
Alright, now Riku was whining. Frowning, Sora wondered what could have driven his best friend to actually whine. It probably wasn't a good sign. The last time Sora had heard this sound, it had been when Kairi had taken it upon herself to proclaim Tidus' crush on Selphie. With a loudspeaker. While she was in a car she had coerced Riku into driving. Around the entire island. On a public holiday.
That exact same sound that was much like a cross between a whine and a whimper had fallen out of Tidus' trembling lips that day.
Sora still couldn't help but applaud his friend's courage for getting out of his house the next day, even if it had been for all of five seconds before he turned tail and ducked backinto his room in a trail of dust.
So it wasn't too farfetched to say that Sora was rather apprehensive of turning around. But with one deep breath and a lot of mental preparation, he did so…
…only to freeze at the sight that greeted him like, like… like salt on a wound. No, that wasn't it. It didn't hurt to see; it just… totally freaked him out like squeaky baby shoes in a library (no, that was more of irritation), or like… like someone was dancing hip-hop in a night club when the live band was playing samba. Right, it was like someone was dancing hip-hop in a night club when the live band was playing samba. It was just… weird. No, scratch that. Make that /very/very/ weird.
There, standing alone and visibly very uncomfortable as he fidgeted every other second, was Riku. And there, sitting alone on the silver-haired boy's crowning glory and looking like a stork standing amongst chickens, was a red headband. And there/dangling/ whimsically in the middle of that very red headband from a stick, was a sprig of mistletoe.
At that moment, Sora thought he was looking at an anglerfish.
And when Riku bowed his head, the sprig of mistletoe bounced like the little bulb of light at the end of an anglerfish's stalk, beckoning with a voice that was sweetness and perkiness combined, "Come to me! Come to me!"
But if Sora gave into the voice in a moment of weakness, it would mean standing under a sprig of mistletoe. With Riku.
Fishes lured by the anglerfish's light were promptly gobbled up in a split of the jaws that moved too fast for the human eye to see, and Sora shuddered to think what would happen to him if he /did/ walk over to Riku. Not that he would be devoured, of course, but still!
It was a scary thought.
No matter, it was Riku. It was his best friend since childhood. It was the guy who had introduced Sora's first bully to the wonders of antiseptic and bandages, the guy who had merely ruffled his hair when Sora failed his first math exam, and it was also the same guy whom he and Kairi and cajoled into signing up for the local cross-dressing, wet swimsuit contest.
Surely, Riku was harmless.
And so, with an almost unhealthy amount of mental persuasion, Sora willed himself over to the supposedly harmless Riku. Smiling nervously and eyes never leaving the sprig of mistletoe, he asked, "So… what's up?" Apart from the mistletoe, that is, he added mentally.
Riku returned his nervous smile. "Well, Kairi happened."
"Oh." Sora winced painfully. That girl was much too manipulative for her own good. "So that's why you can't remove… that?" He pointed rather feebly at the sprig, hand kept close to his body, like he was half-afraid that it was going to suddenly come alive in a mad scientist and Frankenstein-esque style and chomp down on him. Sora wasn't going to put /that/ sort of thing past Kairi. In fact, even it /did/ happen, it would still be still be pretty mild compared to some of the things she'd done before.
"Not unless I want to go bald."
"…So," Sora cocked his head. "Has anyone seen you yet? Apart from me, that is."
Apparently, that was the wrong question to ask. Riku's voice cracked when he spoke, after a moment of terrible silence. At the same time, a usually elegant silver brow twitched. "…Everyone has. You're the last."
"Oh. And… have you kissed anybody yet?"
It was meant to be an offhanded question, something to get the conversation going rather than an honest curiosity about the answer. Yet, the moment it had slipped out of Sora's lips, an acerbic emotion welled up within him. Even when he forced it down, the sour aftertaste remained.
The thought of his best friend kissing another was, as strange as it sounded, annoying. And annoyance was just the first of many emotions, and the only one that Sora could name. A myriad of emotions of varying degrees struck him simultaneously, one shielding the other and making it difficult for Sora to understand what he was really feeling. It was like… everything was wrapped up like an onion, and annoyance was merely the outermost layer that kept everything else from being exposed.
It was… a weird feeling.
"…No. Everyone was… everyone was just avoiding me."
"Even Kairi?" As Sora was attempting to understand what he was feeling, he realized that Kairi's name didn't roll off his tongue smoothly like it always did. It was… a little, difficult, to say.
Riku stiffened at the mention of the redhead.
And suddenly, the almost suffocating emotion that had weighed heavily on Sora just moments ago dissipated. Just like that. But with its disappearance, Sora neither understood why nor did he like the surge of emotions. It was better to fall back into what he knew and treasured the most, the same thing that had given him the strength to go through with saving the world, not once but twice. Friendship was always the safest. So instead of dwelling on what he was feeling, he chuckled and replied, "So you were too much of a sissy to tell Kairi that you don't like this," –he gestured with vague amusement-"headband? And I hope you realize that you look absolutely ridiculous in that thing. In fact, I think you look like an anglerfish."
Riku's jaw dropped as he scrunched up his nose in disgust. "Well, I'll have you know that I'm way more attractive than an anglerfish! An anglerfish! The devil fish! Sora, I thought you had better taste than that!" He laughed, punching his friend lightly in the shoulders.
Sora couldn't help but laugh as well, the infectiousness of Riku's laughter tickling his throat. "But you /do/ look like one! What with that thing dangling off your head like it's some bait and you're trying to prey on something! It's like, you're trying to hide in some corner of the house and then pounce on the first available person in one bite! Chomp, and there the person goes! The only difference between you and an anglerfish right now is that instead of wanting to eat your prey, you want to kiss your prey!"
The silver-haired boy choked when he laughed too hard, finding support in a wall until his legs gave way under the intense pressure of his laughter and he slid down onto the ground, still leaning against the wall and one second away from pounding the tiled floor. The stitch in his side was horribly painful, but there was just no way to stop the hilarity. When he looked up, he realized that Sora, too, was already sitting on the floor and clutching his stomach. And then the laughter started all over again.
One of them yelled, but neither was exactly sure who. All they knew was that it just about sent them both into another fit, and they soon fell into each other in an attempt to hit the other and support each other from falling face-first onto the floor. Pretty as the tiles were, they really didn't want to kiss it.
Eventually, the mirth of the situation stopped tickling them and they lay slumped against the other, tired and panting. For the longest while, neither spoke a word, the only sound filling the room was their deep breaths and occasional chuckle. Then, Sora poked Riku in the ribs.
"Enough of that already!" Riku's tone was still one of amusement. "And make sure word of this doesn't ever reach Tidus and the others. Otherwise, I'll never hear the end of it."
Sora nodded. "Oh yeah. If they find out about this, you'll still be hearing anglerfish jokes on your eightieth birthday." He chuckled again.
"You understand why Kairi made me wear this, right? And why I came looking for you?" Riku's voice had abandoned the lightheartedness of their earlier conversation, and now it was laced with nothing but seriousness and a degree of anxiety.
It sent chills down Sora's spine.
"…Yeah." Perhaps he didn't understand when Riku had first entered the room with his headband. Perhaps he had tried to not understand then. But… within all the jokes and laughter and the comfortable silence that had stretched between them while they sat slumped against each other, Sora had understood. The only plausible reason had stared at him in the face and forced him to understand, to accept it as the truth. And now he could do nothing but understand and accept.
"So… still friends?"
Sora smiled. "Always."
His smile widened when he saw the matching smile on Riku's face.
"And… any chance of anything more than friendship?"
"Maybe. I don't know. Your really can't tell with these type of things, can you?"
Riku shook his head. "No, of course not," he sighed, a trace of disappointment barely masked in his voice, but he quickly forced himself to perk up. "Well, at least it wasn't a flat-out 'no', so that's good, I guess."
"But Sora, tell me I won't need this next year." He pointed at the headband.
Sora chuckled again. "Oh gods, Riku! You can just take it off already!" he exclaimed, reaching up to pull it off his friend's head. "No offense, but I still think you look totally ridiculous with that thing! Any self-respecting anglerfish would be insulted to see such a poor form of imitation!"
He yelped as he dodged a light punch. Rolling a ways back and getting back on his feet, Sora tossed the headband towards the Christmas tree. Sailing effortlessly through the air, it landed perfectly on the top of the tree, encircling the bright star that Sora had placed earlier on the tree's top-most branch.
As he turned to leave, he looked back towards Riku and added playfully, with a light blush dusting his cheeks, "…Besides, I prefer you like this." And then he left hastily.
Riku, still sitting on the ground, blinked for a long while. When the statement finally sank into his head, he smiled widely. So Kairi's seemingly ridiculous plan had worked after all, however small the effect was.
Whistling, he left the room as well. It was time to finish the final preparations for the party tonight.
This new fic nearly killed my muses. It's my first Riku/Sora! XDD Man, lately it seems that I've been moving out of my fic-writing comfort zone to try out new pairings. Like, the fic I posted before this is a Sephiroth/Cloud, and now this one is a Riku/Sora. Both are the first time I've written for the the two pairings, and incidentally, both are gift fics. I wonder what's next? An Axel/Roxas gift fic? Or a Zexion/Demyx? XDDD
Anyway, please review if you enjoyed it! It will motivate me to write more and faster! And considering this is my first Riku/Sora, please be gentle!